A picture of Ed Miliband appears on the wall in the Australian Labor party campaign headquarters. Above the sign reads “don’t be them”. United Kingdom Labour’s high expectations and crushing defeat in 2015 had huge implications for social democrats the world over. No more so for our older sister party down under. At the time they knew a general election was due within 18 months and that while they were up against an unpopular Tory party that had just suffered a big defeat. Yet the whole party had been entangled in a huge personality battle between the previous government’s biggest figures. Sound familiar?
So why have the ALP turned their fortunes around so quickly and brought themselves to the brink of government in less than three years of opposition? (more…)
First published in Anticipations, the Young Fabian journal | Volume 17, Issue 2 | Winter 2013
Just over six months ago my time working for Australian Labor party (ALP) began. The first week started with me leaving Progress annual conference in London and ended with a Eurovision event in Sydney. Both had a similar demographic in attendance, and the latter felt very much like a home away from home. The week in between featured many of the gems that were to unfold in an election where the party changed its candidate for prime minister half way through the campaign.
Having landed (late) I was picked up by my new colleague. Before the pleasantries were over we were dialling into the weekly conference call. I was introduced as the ‘fall guy’ for the campaign. My driver turned out to be the chair of Young Labor for some of the time I had held the same position in the UK. We exchanged battle stories and tales of Trots in student politics – nothing else would have put me at such ease. On arrival I was given the essentials – a phone and hotel room key.
Within 24 hours of landing I’m back in the air and heading to Canberra. It’s budget day. Australia’s twenty-second year of continuous economic growth (started under Labor) is in full swing and everyone is in town. The rest of the G20 might look on with envy but you wouldn’t know it from the chatter- it’s all about the government cutting ‘middle class welfare’ and John Howard’s use of public money to bribe the electorate for votes. (more…)